For years the debate has raged among runners: To avoid injuries, is it best to buy a well-padded shoe or one that is light?
It seems like the answer would be obvious…
A heavily cushioned shoe should minimize the impact of each stride, leading to fewer injuries.
Scientists at the University of Oregon put this theory to the test in the first real-life trial of its kind.1
They gathered 15 runners for their study. First they had the subjects run 5,000 meters, or about three miles, on a treadmill wearing a light shoe.2
After a seven-day rest period, they had the participants repeat the treadmill run with a heavily cushioned shoe.3
During each test, the researchers measured the force placed on the runners’ shoes and legs as their feet struck the treadmill surface.
The Best Running Shoe to Reduce Injuries
What the researchers found surprised them. The runners experienced greater impact and stress on their feet and legs while wearing the heavily cushioned shoe compared to the lighter one.
More impact is directly linked to more running injuries such as plantar fasciitis and bone stress fractures, the researchers said.
Dr. Christine Pollard is an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Oregon. She is one of the study authors.
“We were surprised by these results,” she said. “We thought we would see the opposite.”
Dr. Pollard thinks that the increased cushioning “caused the runners to rely more on the shoe than on their own internal structures” to blunt the impact of their strides.4
She said the subjects reported they could feel the extra cushioning in the heavier shoe while running. This led them to relax their stride, which increased the impact of their feet hitting the treadmill.
The study recently was published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
Sidestep Injury…While Saving Money on Shoes
Running and walking are the most popular forms of exercise in U.S. More than 37% of us either run or walk to stay in shape. And each year, 98 million Americans buy running shoes. They cost up to $200 per pair.5 6 7
The most expensive models tend to be those that have the most cushion. They are often advertised as “maximal” shoes.
But if you want to avoid injuries–or if you have joint problems–this study shows you’re better off with lighter models. You might save a few dollars, too.
One more thing… We recommend staying away from long, marathon-style training. Instead, do high intensity interval training (HIIT). You’ll develop better aerobic capacity than with long, grinding runs.
Aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen that your body is able to use. It is critical to your entire body’s health—and to increased longevity.8
HIIT is easy to follow:
Warm up for three to five minutes by walking or slowly jogging.
Then run (or walk) at the highest intensity level you can for the next minute. Then slow down for the next minute or two to catch your breath.
Repeat this process five to seven times. Then cool down for at least two minutes.
The idea is to push your body for a brief burst. Then allow it to recover.